Friday, April 20, 2012

Continuing on The Fitting Journey

Boy am I glad the weekend is here, how about you? The week was a busy one, and I've only managed to eek out a few minutes each night to continue my work on fitting. Progress has been made, however, and for that I am happy.

I don't have time tonight to post about the process, but I will do that soon. Tonight I just want to post a few pics of muslin number two, and make a few observations.

Just some quickie cell phone pictures. Any thoughts on the fit so far?

My thoughts are that I'm much closer, but still need more tweaking. See those lines on the front that seem to start in the center below the bust, curve under the bust and point towards the armscye? I'm thinking that the side front piece doesn't have enough room for the boobage, hence the pulling and lines. Look at the picture of the armscye. I think I need more fabric and less skin there. Also, I am thinking the princess seam needs to be moved slightly outward toward the arm. Finally, the shoulders may be a little wide, which is not surprising, since I began a size greater than my usual.

That's all for tonight. Let me know in the comments if you see something I'm missing. ;-)

Tomorrow morning I am {hopefully} going blueberry picking with a friend. There is an organic blueberry farm about 45 minutes away that is open for u-pick this weekend. I'm hoping the berries are good - the blueberries (and growers) have really taken a hit this year because the weather was not optimal for a great crop. We are supposed to be getting some really nasty weather this weekend, so our plans may not materialize - in which case, you can find me in the studio, sewing my heart out. What better to do on a rainy day?

As I type, the rain has just started, good and heavy. We really need the rain, so no complaints here!

Have a wonderful weekend,


Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Fitting Journey: Part Two and a Half

So, I went back to the work table and retraced the front pieces using Swedish tracing paper, which I then basted together on the sewing machine.  So much easier than pins.

Let's look at some pictures again, ok?  (These are prior to any alterations.) Click to enlarge pictures.

Basted front pieces on my DF.  Princess seam lying in the right spot, CF lined up and pinned.

1" lateral difference in pattern apex vs. my apex.  My apex is right on the seam line.  Fancy that.  Also shows inter-apex measurement so I can compare to pattern.

Hip lays nicely at side seam, bust and armscye - not so much.  This is saying, 'Give me a full bust adjustment.'

Check this out!  I think I need to adjust the shoulder line.

Which got me thinking.  Hubs took this picture for me.  My shoulders are a tad uneven, and the left is more sloped than the right.  Hmmm.

Thoughts & comments always appreciated.

I think that's it for today.  I've got to get ready for Monday, tidy up the house a bit, and tend to the laundry.  I'm hoping to have more time for alterations tomorrow night.

Bye for now,


A Fitting Journey: Part Two

Good Sunday Afternoon, or whatever time of the day it is where you are.  It is another gorgeous day in the Sunshine State.  I have a beautiful, sunny view from my second floor sewing studio.

First, let me address the comments from my last post on fitting.  Thank you for your comments, ladies.   Elle and Jilly, average is a wonderful, splendid thing when it comes to fitting.  I've never been 'average' fit-wise, having inherited the BB gene(s).  That just means I have to find a way to fit my curves, and thankfully, I'm not afraid to forge ahead.  Jilly - you never have to worry about being 'pc' for me.  ;-)

Robin, I wish we lived close - wouldn't it be great to learn to fit the girls together?  I am glad to hear you find this journey helpful.

Next, a quote.

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
Winston Churchill

Now I will let some pictures do the talking.

What do you see here?  What do you think is causing the smilies and poufs?

How about here?  Clue:  I don't have a beer belly.  (Honest!)

Same disclaimer applies here.

Clearly I have not yet achieved a good fit.  Let's evaluate the issues.

Pic#1:  I've got all kinds of droopiness, smilies, and poufs in the front.  It is clear to me when I put the muslin on that the bust point is too low.  How low???  Well, about the 2" that I lowered it, that's how low.  The arrows in the pic point to the apex on the muslin. 
What is the malfunction?  My tissue fitting was faulty, apparently.  I was surprised when I did the tissue fitting that I needed to lower the apex by 2".  I was wearing a good bra, well fitting, and very new, so I can rule that out.  I was just faulty in my tissue fitting.  This is the reason for the muslin, right?

Pics#2 and #3:  I will address these together, as I see the same thing in both.  Drag lines.  (What a drag, haha...)  I have established that the apex in the front is too low - the princess seam full bust point  is wrong for my apex.   The muslin apex is basically hanging there, along with excess fabric, causing droopiness in the front, and the drag lines you see.  There are even some coming from the back in pic#2.

What's right about the muslin?

When I look at pic#1, I see that the princess seams are lying properly.  They should lie either directly over the middle of the bust, or slightly toward the arm side.  

The back - no picture here, but I will provide one next go 'round, as I am going to use the same back.  I see a couple drag lines, but these will likely correct when I correct the front.  Best to make one change at a time, to evaluate the muslin as a whole, rather than in a vacuum.

Side seams - not too shabby.  Fairly straight, except some drag from front again.  

So, clearly, the trouble spot is the apex.

I warned you this would be all about the bust fit, right?!

Now I am off to have a cup of black bean soup that I made for lunch/dinner, then I will proceed to redo the fronts and repost, hopefully tonight.

Happy Sunday, happy sewing,



After I got some food in me and went to throw some laundry in (sort of a Zen activity for me - I do a lot of thinking in the laundry room), I realized that I posted pics without the process of how I got there. I meant to do that, but also meant to explain that I will post later about the process. I wanted to get a quick post out with muslin pictures, as it helps me evaluate the process and fit. All that to say there will be step by step pictures coming soon.

I have retraced my pattern and am about to do some flat pattern measurements and another tissue fitting. The combo of the two should help me be more accurate.

Be back soon!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A Fitting Journey: Part One

Hello and Happy Friday to you!  Amazingly enough, there have been several evenings this week when I've had the time and energy to do sewing related activities after dinner. Mostly, it's been serving as relaxation for me, always a good thing, right? I'm in the mood to work on shirt fitting, one of my major sewing goals being to fit my upper body.  Hence my little sketch above. (I just have to mention - I used the app 'Paper' by 53 on my iPad to sketch that - it's a well designed app, very cool IMO.)

So with this post, I invite you to come along with me on my shirt fitting journey. Refining the fit on a basic shirt pattern is important to me. I need shirts, and I especially need shirts that fit well.

I must warn you, though. If you have no desire or need to walk down the sometimes challenging road of pretty-damn-big full bust alterations (FBA), then you may want to stop reading now, because this is going to primarily be about my bust fit. Yeah, I'll throw some shoulder in there, maybe some back and hip, but I will be elaborating on bust fit. There will be muslining, it may be slow going, but it will be a learning experience.   I am on a mission to fit my girls!

Background info:
I've got an hourglass figure, overly endowed on top. My FBA is a challenging one due to my (relatively) narrow back, narrow and bony torso, and really large breasts. My bra size is a 36 I or 36 J in US sizing, which equates to a 36 GG in the UK bra brands I typically wear. Some people have a lot of breast tissue on the side, up into the axilla. Not me - I am all up front - no back fluff, no side fluff. All the fluff is up front.

I've read a myriad of books and online tutorials on bust fitting. To date, I have yet to find any source that addresses fitting women who, like myself, have really large breasts. So I must take those principles I've learned from various sources and extrapolate to find my own personal best method.  Please keep in mind that my methods may not work for everyone, nor is it necessarily 'the right way'.  Take from it what you will.  I am sharing this in the hopes it will be helpful to someone out there.

Along the way, I will try to show what the limitations have been for me when using a resource book or method when it comes to super sizing the bust area, and where I've had to extrapolate. The most helpful thing I have learned, both by experience and by taking a bust fitting class on PR, is that my shape is particularly well suited to a shoulder princess seamed shirt.  Not really an armscye princess, though.

The Pattern:
The pattern I will be using is Butterick 5678, View D. Shoulder princess, long sleeve, collared shirt, with separate pattern pieces for cup sizes through a D cup. Of course I'll begin with the D cup piece - such a big help right out of the gate.  It will automatically reduce the size of the FBA I need to do by a few inches. I cut a size 16, D cup front. {Normally I cut a 14. In this style, I opted for a 16 for a variety of reasons.  This may lead to the need for a narrow shoulder adjustment.} For this first part of the journey, I am working only with 3 pieces - the front, the side front, and the back. I cut the original tissue, then traced onto Swedish tracing paper. By the time I mutilate make alterations on the pieces, I will be most thankful I took a few minutes to trace these pieces.

Ready?  Ok then, let's delve into this.

Do you tissue fit patterns?  Sometimes I do, other times I do not, but in this case I think it is a good thing.  I am using Fit for Real People (FFRP).  The book uses tissue fitting extensively, and discusses how to do it, giving lots of examples.  I first traced off my main bodice pieces, transferring the markings, taping curves on the seam line, and clipping curves to the seam line.  Wearing a close fitting tee, and following FFRP's method of tissue fitting, I first determined that my bust point or apex needed to come down 2 inches. (Yikes...damn gravity.)  It is important to get the bust point corrected before making any other alterations.   Here is how I moved the bust point - step by step.  (Click all pics to enlarge.)

Draw a rectangle on the front PP (marked in red), from above to below the notches (marked in green). Cut out.

Move straight down the amount needed to correct the apex position. Notice the squares on my pinnable worktable are 1 inch. 

Place some tissue in the open area (outlined in blue) and tape it on.  Be generous, as you will need to 'true up' the cutting lines.

'True up' - redraw your cutting line following the shape of the original line.  You can overlay your original pattern piece, matching notches, to assist.

Is all that clear?  Hope so.  Not done yet, though...still have to fix the apex on the side front pp.

Same basic idea here.  Catching in both nothches, draw a rectangular-ish shape and cut it out, then move it down the same amount as on the other pp.  Generously add in extra tissue to prepare to true up your lines. 
It is at this point that my picture deviates a bit from the book.  The book shows a small change.  Two inches is a fair amount, so the lines look wacky after moving and taping your rectangle.  You want to maintain the same curvature and lines of the pp, just a little lower.  Read on, and I will show how I did that.
Overlay the original pp on the tissue you are altering.  Match the notches, not the shoulders.  Trace the curve - the green line shows where I traced the curvature.
But then you get to a point near the waist where the original tissue isn't exactly lined up properly, but you still want the proper line.  What to do?
Pivot.  See the pin to the right where the green line begins?  Remove all other pins, leaving just that one.  Pivot, then trace the remaining pattern line.  All trued up - now just trim the edges off.

Now we see the side front (left) and center front (right) pp's, bust points lowered, lines trued up.  

Next another try on to make sure I got the apex right, and to move on to measuring for my FBA.

Apex is in a good position.  Note that the princess seam is too far to the side.  That is where the FBA will come in next.

Green line shows actual center front (CF).  The remaining tissue to the left of the green line is facing.  The center front needs to line up with my center front. Pinned the CF and the side seam to my tee, unpinning the princess seam to allow for this.

After pinning tissue CF to my CF, I measured from seam line to seam line  in a few spots.

I placed a horizontal pin through both bodice front pieces to indicate where I needed to begin adding in tissue.  Measured the bust gap, again, seam line to seam line.

Second tissue fitting shows the apex consistent with mine.  Good.  So then I unpinned the princess seam line until the center front on the pattern tissue was lined up at my center front (pinned to my tee at CF and SS) and lying properly.  Then I measured from seam line to seam line and recorded the amount I needed to add.  I placed a pin at the uppermost spot where I needed to add tissue.

After marking all of this, I fitted the side front and front pieces individually.  The princess seam should lie right down the center of the breast, or slightly to the arm side.  I wanted to make sure my seam would be in the right place, which required an unequal distribution of added tissue between the two pattern pieces.  Dividing the amount needed equally between the two pieces would not necessarily bring that seam to the right spot in this case.  No pics of this - I just measured from seam line on pattern to where I want the seam to lay on my body, and recorded those.  Then, it is back to the worktable to make flat pattern alterations, including the FBA.

That's all for now, but I will be back with the next step in my fitting journey, the FBA.

Happy altering,



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Home Dec Fabric Shopping: Master Suite Draperies

One of my most favorite places to shop here in town is Boca Bargoons. It is a huge store that sells gorgeous, high end, home dec fabrics at a discount.  {Think kid in a candy store!}This week they are having a sale - 30% off the already discounted prices, plus a coupon for an additional 10%. That adds up to a serious discount when it comes to home dec fabrics.  I've purchased many a roll of fabric there, including this Brunschwig & Fils fabric (scroll down) that I used in my daughter's bathroom.

The first picture below is the top contender.  I am going for calm, something that will work with brown (comforter) and a deep beige (walls), and white (trim & blinds), that also had the shade of blue that was my inspiration (see second picture).  There is also enough green in it for the hubs to like it, and indeed I got a thumbs up from him today when I emailed him the picture.

The picture above is a tray containing my samples.  Click to enlarge, as usual.  The sample in the upper right corner is the fabric I fell in love with some time ago. I've been holding on to for a good while, waiting for the right time to undertake a big project.  This particular fabric is no longer available, but the color serves as my inspiration for the room.

The walls are painted "Thunder Bay" by Ralph Lauren.  Ralph Lauren Home.  It is in their "Lifestyle" line of colors, Thoroughbred division.  My cell phone pic below does not truly capture the color.

I think the wall color and the curtain fabric will look great together, don't you? One of the challenges when decorating a master suite for a husband and wife is to make it appealing to both partners without it being overly feminine or overly masculine.  Wasn't there an HGTV show about that at one time?  I believe I have found a good mix.

Anyhow, I've been waiting for a) the right time (ie, having the time), and b) a sale! to buy my bedroom curtain fabric.  The stars aligned this week, and both things came to bear.  We managed, just today, to get some affairs settled for some elder family members that will free up my time and energies a good deal.

I know home dec doesn't get everyone's juices flowing like it does mine, but I love large scale decorating projects involving sewing.  It is much easier than garment sewing - heck, how hard is it to fit a rectangle?  It is an instant gratification thing that I get to look at every day.  It works for me. ;)

Currently, there is a shoulder princess seamed shirt pattern on my worktable that I've traced and tissue fitted, and need to alter.  (Yep, sewing clothes gets my juices flowing also!) I've only had a few minutes each evening to work on it, but I am plugging away.  I'd like to get that done before I begin the bedroom curtains.  More on the shirt progress later in the week.

Now I am off to measure my windows and calculate yardage.  Tomorrow morning, before anything else can get in my way, I am off to buy fabric.  {{{Happiness!}}}

I hope you are all feeling your own happiness tonight!  Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kwik Sew 3176 - A Summer Robe for Lena

Lena's 'duster' has been on my ironing board all week, just waiting for a zipper. Thursday night after dinner I was able to finish it, now I've got to get it in the mail
KS 3176 has two views, one short and one long. I made view A, the long view with 3/4 length sleeves. The robe features dolman sleeves and a jewel neckline. It's designed with buttons, but I put in a zipper as requested. It is sized XS - XL. The recipient needs more like a 2X, but you know how generous the ease is on KS patterns, so after some flat pattern measuring (KS is kind enough to print those on the pattern), I just had to add a couple inches.
The hubby was kind enough to take pictures for me ~
As you can see, it's quite generous in size. It looks like I'm hiding twins under the robe in this next picture, but don't get excited - not possible!
See that recliner?  Last year's Anniversary present for the Man Cave.

Goofing around....

This is a simple, well drafted pattern - not one hiccup. It is a no-frills design with two large font pockets. It calls for a contrast facing - not really necessary, but a nice touch. I used a white poly-cotton lightweight blend from stash, interfaced with Pro Woven from Pam Erny, also from stash. The main fabric is a coral, plaid seersucker that I bought several months ago at Hancock's specifically for Lena's duster. I happened to notice last weekend it is still in stock. The seersucker is very lightweight, so I liked the extra structure the contrast facing gave the robe front.

The only changes I made were to cut the back on the fold - back seam totally unnecessary here, and I added 1 inch at that fold, for a total of 2 inches added to the back piece. I added to the back neck facing in the same manner. The front basically got almost the same increase in size with zipper placement - no overlap for buttons.

I chose not to embellish this version, as Lena lives in Pennsylvania and this is essentially a test garment. If this fits well and she likes the style, I have plans for another in a couple of really fun fabrics. I will play around with piping and contrast pockets on that version.

The only thing I'm not terribly sure about is the type of zipper.  I used a robe zipper - Hancock's had exactly 3 in stock, white, thankfully.  Robe zippers do not separate completely at the bottom.  In some ways, I think this is better, as Lena is 86 and has a little OA in her hands - no fiddling trying to connect the zipper.  But on the other hand, I am not sure if she wants to put it on over her head, or more like you put on a coat.  I will just have to wait and see, then I will know for the next one.

I really like this robe pattern, and I think I will be making it again for me in the shorter version with short sleeves in a lightweight terry.  It will be great for summer.

First fabric purchase of 2012...

On the evening of April 3rd, I placed an order from - it was at my door when we got home from dinner two nights later!  I love that fast service. Mostly it was basics.  I bought a piece of Sophia knit in navy to make another pair of Style Arc's Sailor Sue pants - I've been living in my first pair, and they traveled with me on our recent trip up north. I really wanted Ponte, but haven't been able to find it in navy.  The piece I have is so nice, but was not enough - I was bummed.  :(  I've heard good things about the Sophia knit.  It is a bit thinner than my Ponte, but I will give it a go.

New fabric.  :)
 Three different 'navy' fabrics.  The top is the Sophia, and looks to me 'IRL' to be navy.  On the bottom are a batiste and a broadcloth, both labeled navy.  They look royal blue and an almost purple to me.  Anyhow, those two I picked up for lining use.

A sweet voile - no intended use yet, just loved it!  Any suggestions?
I placed another fabric order from Fabric Mart last night, this time all goodies - no basics.  I received the Julie's picks mailer yesterday, and I really liked some of the fabrics.  Last month, not so much.

Next up on the sewing front - I'm feeling a cotton blouse, shoulder princess seams. I know I've got such a pattern in the stash. One of my sewing goals is to perfect a blouse pattern for myself. Now to carve out the time. ;)


Happy Easter,Passover, and Spring! I hope it's lovely in your part of the world.  


Monday, April 2, 2012


Not sure where my head was when I last posted, but I just noticed I left out the picture of the actual Singer Buttonholer Attachment......... So, without further ado:

The white knob, turned clockwise, controls the position of the rectangular piece  at the front that holds the fabric.

Ta da!

Seriously, when I bought my sweet little Featherweight, I looked at this attachment dubiously.  I should not have doubted.  It is truly a nifty device.

Last week when we were up in Erie, we set Lena and Frank up on Skype.  Last night they Skyped me for the first time!  I was so excited.  You have to understand, they are in their mid 80's.  They loved it as much as I did. They got to see and talk to the hubby, who was not able to travel with us.

I got to show Lena her new duster, which she loved.  She opted for a zipper closure rather than buttons, so no fun with the buttonholer today.  It's all about what works for the person receiving the garment, right?!  I also showed her the fabric I picked out for the next one, which she loved also.  I hope to finish her duster tonight and get it mailed tomorrow.  Then if I need to make fit adjustments, I will do so before I make another.

Back to work now - gotta get the boring stuff out of the way so I can sew, y'know!

Happy Monday,